Racism and ethnic discrimination in the United States has been a major issue since the colonial era and the slave era. Legally sanctioned racism sanctioned privileges and rights for white people not granted to Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latin Americans. European Americans (particularly Anglo Americans) were privileged by law in matters of literacy, immigration, voting rights, citizenship, land acquisition, and criminal procedure over periods of time extending from the 17th century to the 1960s. Many non-Protestant European immigrant groups, particularly Jews, Irish people, Poles and Italians among others, suffered xenophobic exclusion and other forms of discrimination in American society.
Major racially and ethnically structured institutions included slavery, Indian Wars, Native American reservations, segregation, residential schools for Native Americans, and internment camps. Formal racial discrimination was largely banned in the mid-20th century, and came to be perceived as socially unacceptable and/or morally repugnant as well.
Racial politics remains a major phenomenon. Racism continues to be reflected in socioeconomic inequality, and has taken on more modern, indirect forms of expression, most prevalently symbolic racism. Racial stratification continues to occur in employment, housing, education, lending, and government.
Many people in the U.S. continue to have some prejudices against other races, with a full third of Americans self-labeling as having "racist feelings" according to one survey. In the view of the U.S. Human Rights Network, a network of scores of US civil rights and human rights organizations, "Discrimination permeates all aspects of life in the United States, and extends to all communities of color". Discrimination against African Americans, Latin Americans, and Muslims is widely acknowledged. Members of every major American ethnic minority have perceived racism in their dealings with other minority groups.
Native Americans, who have lived on the North American continent for at least 10,000 years, had an enormously complex impact on American history and racial relations. During the colonial and independent periods, a long series of conflicts were waged, with the primary objective of obtaining resources of Native Americans. Through wars, massacres, forced displacement (such as in the Trail of Tears), and the imposition of treaties, land was taken and numerous hardships imposed. In 1540, the first racial strife was with Spaniard Hernando De Soto's expedition who enslaved and murdered in many New World communities. In the early 18th century, the English had enslaved nearly 800 Choctaws. After the creation of the United States, the idea of Indian removal gained momentum. However, some Native Americans chose or were allowed to remain and avoided removal where after they were subjected to racist institutions in their ancestral homeland. The Choctaws in Mississippi described their situation in 1849, "we have had our habitations torn down and burned, our fences destroyed, cattle turned into our fields and we ourselves have been scourged, manacled, fettered and otherwise personally abused, until by such treatment some of our best men have died." Joseph B. Cobb, who moved to Mississippi from Georgia, described Choctaws as having "no nobility…